Journal of Chemical Ecology
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Phytoremediation has been proposed for the elimination of toxic metals in soil, yet little attention has been given to the performance of insects that feed on contaminant-tolerant plants. We tested the performance of two herbivores with different feeding behaviors, the cabbage looper, Trichoplusia ni, and the green peach aphid, Myzus persicae, reared on cadmium-tolerant Brassica juncea plants that contained different concentrations of cadmium. We also tested the performance of the aphid parasitoid Aphidius colemani developing in aphids reared on plants with different levels of cadmium. The hypothesis tested was that the chewing insect would be more negatively affected than the sucking insect, because of the localization of cadmium within the host plant, and that the aphid parasitoid would not be affected. We also compared the performance of T. ni on artificial diet with different levels of cadmium. Neither the phloem-feeding aphid nor its parasitoid was affected by cadmium in the host plant. The effects of cadmium on the foliage-feeding cabbage looper varied, with negative effects on development observed in experiments with artificial diet but not in those using natural host plants. These data, together with information available in the literature, support the idea that the effects of toxic metals present in a host plant may be influenced by a herbivore’s feeding strategy. However, a wide range of chewing and sucking species needs to be tested to confirm this hypothesis.